Julia Antenucci

Curiously Hungry
food health recipe

Build Your Own: Blerta Bowl

Blerta Bowls only got their name today, but they’ve existed for a while.

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You may have also heard of similar iterations called “power bowls” or “protein bowls,” but this isn’t about protein or power, it’s about Blerta, aka me. AKA the Blerta Bowl is an amalgamation of all of my favorite foods, piled into my favorite bowl. So really, it’s a celebration of all of the veggies that I love topped with my favorite things, which are usually eggs over medium, homemade salsa, pan seared prosciutto, etc.

You see, I’m not a ‘grab an apple and go,’ ‘grab a quick sub at the corner store’ kind of gal. Sadly, my predilections and tastes are too strong for such nonsense. So when I have breakfast, I make breakfast. I create a mini feast for myself. That way, not only am I satisfied til lunch, but I can also go about my day feeling like I accomplished something and did something extravagant. This is also why I go home for lunch every day — besides to let the dog out.

And the best part about this meal — whether it’s for lunch or breakfast — is that it’s not even that hard to make. Seriously. Take 15 minutes out of your morning and prepare something for yourself. Sit down with your cup of coffee and enjoy the thing you made with all of your favorite foods. Eat a vegetable, maybe two. You might be surprised how good you feel for the rest of the day.

I got a lot of requests as to how one would make a Blerta Bowl, and there’s no good answer to that. Your Blerta Bowl may not even be called a Blerta Bowl! It could be Christian Cup, and your Christian Cup could runneth over with kielbasa and weird earthy cheese and pimento olives.

Honestly, whatever makes your heart sing. I’m not here to judge.

But I guess my bowl does have a science to it, a formula of sorts. So let’s start with the basic foundation.

STEP 1: THE BASE

A basic Blerta bowl has two main foundation components, a “starch”, (I put this in quotations because cauliflower is not actually a conventional starch. Like, vegetables have carbs, but it will never be actual rice. I’m no fool!) and a green. For majority of my bowls, here is what I start with:

CAULIFLOWER RICE
What is cauliflower rice, you ask? It’s a thing that I eat almost every day. Every Saturday, buy a $2 head of cauliflower from the public market and when I get home, I cut it up and throw it into the food processor. Here’s what it looks like after I do that:

rice

See, it looks like rice! And like I said, I’m not deluded. I know it’s not actual rice. And I also know that nothing can replace the creamy, carby, satisfying taste of white rice — especially in a bowl like this (like if you want please substitute actual rice because it’s the best and it soaks up egg yolks like nothing I have ever seen before. Feel free to add a little soy sauce if you’re feeling wacky*~). But still — I love this stuff. The cauliflower is nutty and slightly chewy and is impeccably skilled at picking up any flavors you throw its way.
For me, I like sauteeing it with olive oil (enough to coat the rice evenly), salt, pepper, garlic, and nutritional yeast, AKA nooch. From there, I sautee the cauliflower rice for a few minutes, until the air fills with smells of garlic and toasted cauliflower. Cooking to the nose doesn’t work for everyone, but it sure is satisfying. This also depends on how much you like your cauliflower cooked. I like a little crunch to mine, but if you’re wary of the raw stuff, let it saute until it reaches your desired consistency.
The nooch and garlic work wonders together, giving it a fermented, nutty, and almost cheesy flavor, which contrasts super well with the second base component…

GREENZ
This can actually be any green. For years and years, I was on an arugula kick. And in many ways, I still am. I am always amazed at how beautifully lemony and peppery a green can be! It’s like magic. However, I am not at all enthused by how quickly this stuff wilts. And since I’m a busy working gal with no time or money for rotting produce, lately I have been buying kale. Lots of kale. Two stalks of kale a week.
But I don’t eat it raw. To be honest, unless my kale is massaged, eating it raw is super gross. Kale is a deep, earthy green that I think tastes like what children who loathe broccoli imagine to taste like (which in my opinion is actually pretty mild?). To extract some of the bitterness of the kale and its earthy flavor it needs to be counteracted with two things: fat and acid. So for me, that means a quick sautee with 1-2 tbs of olive oil, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and the juice of 1/2 of a lemon. I like to cook my kale until it’s bright green, glistening and wilted in defeat.

And now that the base is established, here is where the fun starts.

STEP 2: THE ACCOUTERMENTS

I don’t speak French and I don’t claim to fully know the definition of this word, but based on my 9th grade memory of French class, I’m pretty sure it means accessories or additional supplies. So yes, these are the supplies you need. Again, do whatever you want, but here’s what I would do:

AN EGG (or two)
Eggs are really a matter of preference. The other night, I walked around the bar and I asked more than a dozen people how they liked their eggs and I got a slew of varying answers. Me personally? I like them over medium. This means the yolk is still intact and runny, but there is a thin white film over the top of the yolk. It makes for great dipping, mixing, and saucing.

CRISPY PROSCIUTTO
If you don’t eat the meats, feel free to skip this one. Unlike bacon, prosciutto begins to sizzle, curl, crisp and caramelize the second it hits heat. So for busy mornings, this means that it’s ready in less than 2 minutes. Also, prosciutto has zero nitrates, no added sugar, just pork and salt. It adds a salty, fatty component to the bowl that cuts the creaminess of the cauliflower and the earthiness of the kale quite nicely.

AVOCADO
This one probably goes without saying. I put avocado on everything. I put avocado on nothing and eat it with a spoon. Avocado makes me happy, so it works.

LENTIL BURGER
I don’t have the recipe down just yet, but I recently made about 20 lentil burgers and put them in my freezer. They’ve been super handy when I’m in a rush and need to eat a good meal fast. Plus, the lentils are creamy, savory, and delicious. This would also work with any other protein. I’ve used pulled pork, chicken, turkey meatballs, etc.

FOLLOW UR DREAMS
I am serious about this one. If you like tomatoes, then throw some on there. Love carrots? Add a few for Pete’s sake. This will only become your favorite meal if you put your favorite things in it.

STEP 4: THE SAUCE

Where would we, the American people, be without a few good sauces under our belt? I, for one, am nothing without a good balsamic glaze, homemade salsa, splash of lime, cashew cream, hollandaise, pico de gallo, you name it, on my food. It makes me happy. It adds a creamy, tangy, spicy — whatever you want really — contrast to your Blerta Bowl. And that’s what makes it special.

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